Create a journal entry: Define your goals
China and me, and why I am here
I miss China badly!
I started studying Chinese in 2008, at Rome's "La Sapienza" university. My university offered me a chance to experience China first-hand, thanks to a course organized at Beijing's Foreign Languages University (Beijing Waiguoyu Daxue, 北京外国语大学), or Beiwai, in 2011. The 3-month trip to China left me with such a deep impression of Beijing that I decided to come back for a longer language course to Beiwai the following year. Altogether, I spent 9 months in Beijing. Despite several chances of visiting other places in China, I made the (for some people controversial) choice to stay in Beijing and explore the city in depth, meddling with its people and doing the things real young Beijingers do. I went to rock festivals, I avoided the foreign neighborhoods and stuck to cheap dirty restaurants, bars and clubs (which I loved!). I also had to opportunity to visit Beijing's so-called art district, or 798 Dashanzi. That's when I first came into contact with real Chinese contemporary art. Of course, studying Chinese language and culture at the university before, I had already read about Chinese art. The reality of what I saw in front of me in Beijing was nothing like I had ever read into books.
It was not just the colours and shapes, the pieces of art expressed something more than pure aesthetics. Every sculpture was embedded in China's social, political, economical and cultural situation. Every painting had hidden messages in them which would only be understood by knowing China deeply. But, most of all, the street art and the pieces that you could find in street corners (graffitis, but also statues, installations and sculptures), concealed between bushes and trees, or completely hidden in tunnels between buildings that you could only access willingly, never by chance... these were the pieces that excited my imagination more, that made me wonder what these artists wanted to express with them and how they correlated with the wider situation of art and cultural life in China.
This web course was the first I ever saw that offered insights into the contemporary art scene in China, and when I saw it all the memories from my 2011 and 2012 trips came back to mind. I had never even heard of Iversity as a platform for MOOCs, so I am a novice here. I hope to learn to navigate this course quickly, because I am really looking forward to seeing how the scene in China has changed over the years, and especially to gain some professional and academic insights over what I thought the artists wanted to deliver in the works I saw at the 798 art district.